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PS4 Game Review
BattleBorn is an online first person shooter (FPS), which also features a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA), from those lunatic people who gave us Borderlands. The game was developed by Gearbox Software and published by 2K Games.
The story, such as it is, has a collection of heroes gathering at the end of the universe to battle Varelsi, the creatures responsible for the annihilation of most of the planets and stars. The survivors flee the apocalypse and gather on the planet of Solus, there to fight as the BattleBorn.
When you first open the game you get the story and an introduction to the game's controls by being forced to play the first chapter of the solo missions. The game is pretty easy to pick up if you have played a FPS before, with much of the action happening on the shoulder buttons for the PS4. This does create some limitations when attempting to remote play with a Vita, until you discover that in your options menu there is a command set especially for the Vita. To increase the ways that you can play, BattleBorn also supports two player split screen on the PS4.
The look of the game is in keeping with Borderlands. Environments are brightly coloured with a leaning to primary colours or a slightly psychedelic look, and it is obvious from the opening sequence that the game draws most of its stylistic inspiration from comics and anime, although this can make combat a little tricky. This makes the game look great, but can lead to some disorientation during gameplay as some of the environments correspond so little to real world topography or colouring that you can quickly lose your bearings. This is temporary when you consider that you’ll run the same map many times.
As you run the maps your character gains experience and has the chance to pick up loot. The makers of the game have gone for a rather odd way of gaining power. Overall your personal experience increases each time you play, I found that playing the co-op story maps was the quickest way to gain points for both your individual characters and your command stats which go across all your characters. There are twenty-five characters to play with, most of whom are unlocked as you play through the game. Within the gameplay you also can collect shards. These power your ability to build things, like cannons and activate any of the loot you will be carrying.
While you are doing all of this you will be gaining points to activate your helix. The helix is the in-game power up which allows you to pick various enhancements while losing others. It’s a bit of a tricky idea as you have to stop in the game, go into a different menu and choose your options. This is not a problem in either the solo or co-op story matches as there is generally somewhere to hunker down and do this, regardless of the fact that you are leaving your team high and dry. It’s much more of a problem in the ‘Vs’ matches which tend to be a lot quicker, leaving less time. Go into your helix and you might find that an opponent has handed you your arse on a plate.
So, there is no real story mode as such, the linking animation tries to give the player some context, but apart from introducing characters it is little more than a cosmetic sheen on the game. So the title screen has a static montage of the various characters you can play as, each of whom have slightly different stats, I’m guessing that most players will try and find a good all-rounder, or swap out their character depending on the map. I tried a map run with a slow, heavy tank character only to get stuck halfway in a trap which required a level of speed he just didn’t possess.
Thankfully the game not only allows you to play with your friends but also allows for matchmaking, as these are large quest-like maps this is a god send compared to some other games. There are four main modes, Story Public/Private, where you can run the public maps either with friends or via matchmaking, here you can also choose up to four levels of difficulty and Vs. In Vs you will be playing in teams of five players all of which will be human, although you may also encounter AI elements, you can choose between ‘Spotlight Battle’ which is limited to the Incursion and Overgrowth Maps. Casual play uses matchmaking and accesses all of the maps and modes, the hardest and the most rewarding for loot is the Competitive Play, where the big boys go at each other.
For each of you characters you have a command choice where you can change out characters, buy and sell gear (the game also has a micro economy where you can spend real money) swap loadouts, view your stats and spend real cash. Lastly, like Borderlands, there are shift codes, these are given out freely and bag all sorts of rewards.
The game comes with a few problems, although it has a solid base, it even attempts to emulate some of the humour found in Borderlands, the story mode only has eight maps to play, none of which should take more than forty to fifty minutes. The Vs are fun, depending on the group you’re playing with and in my week online I found nothing but helpful people waiting to run a newbie through a map. The question is whether they can keep the challenge going with the release of new maps and DLC’s as BattleBorn’s main strength lies with its multiplayer maps.
Out of the gate, the game has a few faults, but nothing that cannot be fixed and the multiplayer mode is a great deal of fun.
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